Executions decrease but number of death sentences spikes, study
The number of state sanctioned executions being carried out a year ago has decreased dramatically since 2015, Amnesty International has said in their annual report on death sentences and executions. China's official death penalty figures are a state secret, but Amnesty said it continues to execute thousands of people every year.
Belarus, Botswana, Nigeria and authorities within the State of Palestine resumed executions in 2016; Chad, India, Jordan, Oman and United Arab Emirates - all countries that executed people in 2015 - did not report any executions a year ago.
For the first time since 2006, the USA is not among the world's five biggest executioners and the number of executions (20) in 2016 reached the lowest level recorded in any year since 1991.
Most U.S. executions took place in the states of Georgia and Texas, while 19 states have abolished the death penalty.
Beijing has tried to make the use of the death penalty rarer, reducing the number of crimes in which it is applicable from 55 to 46 in 2015.
But Amnesty said it was encouraged by a continued decrease in the number of executions and death sentences there during 2016.
Commutations or pardons of death sentences were recorded in 28 countries in 2016. It also noted the amendments the Centre had brought in to impose death penalty for hijacking when it results in deaths.
Another 2,832 people are still on death row in the US.
The report added that AI "found only 701 individuals whose death sentences had been approved by the SPC between 2011 and 2016, while the organisation estimates that yearly the actual number runs into the thousands".
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Iran executed at least 567 people alone, accounting for 66 percent of all the confirmed executions in the region.
Iran recorded the second-largest number of executions with 597, although it dropped by 42 per cent (977) from the previous year.
There is one country which was not included in the data but which is believed to have carried out more executions that the rest of the world: China.
Nee said that one positive trend is that the Chinese government says it did not hand down any death sentences with immediate execution to corrupt officials previous year, except for one who committed murder.
The 20 executions in the United States during the year was the lowest number there since 1991.
In 2016, we found that China was the world's top executioner.
"We've seen several executions that result in agony and pain, and that has caused some states to put hold on executions and has put in place legal challenges that have prevented executions from going forward", Clark said.
Amnesty International and Amnesty East Asia Regional Director Nicholas Bequelin (L) and Global Issues Programme Deputy Director James Lynch (R) briefed the media briefing at the Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC) in Hong Kong.
Whilst China has been taking steps towards reforming its death penalty policies, it is hard to assess the progress without more transparency, William Nee, the lead author of the report told HKFP.
New data from Vietnam showed that it was one of the world's biggest executioners.
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Apr 09 2017